Tweed Run 2011: ‘What a lovely world it is!’

by tillieandcoco

What a lovely world it is!
-Tweed Run participant

Dear Coco,

And so it was, for the greater part of Saturday 9th April in central London, for everyone on the 3rd Annual Tweed Run. The fun started early when on my way to ‘the shadow of St Paul’s’ I saw numerous dapper chaps and a dashing dame with a beautiful cape cycle past. The lovely cape lady called out “good morning!” The city warmed up quickly, the Thames glistened, the spokes flickered, and for a few short hours cycling utopia took hold of the streets. Cars were held back at intersections by smiling ladies and gents with M for Marshall wrapped around their arms in, of course, tweed. Tally ho!

As the ride started forth from St Paul’s to Blackfriars Bridge, a Marshall grunted “no more than 5 miles per hour!” True enough, 10.5 miles at such a leisurely pace was perfectly doable, despite my questionable fitness. (I barely broke a sweat until my cycle home through the city, when suddenly bereft of my tweed-clad mob I reverted to full tilt.)

Just over halfway through the ride we stopped for a tea break at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the oldest public square in London, opposite Sir John Soane’s Museum. Real leaf tea (!) for 500-odd people was served from proper pots in mismatching vintage cups and saucers. The queue was so long that volunteers walked the length of the line politely offering platters of cucumber sandwiches and Cajun spiced nuts, and everyone joked about how the British love a good queue, ho ho.

Whilst waiting in line for tea I made friends with a lovely couple who own a garden centre near Turnham Green station. Did you know you should always pick basil from the base of the stem, and only water it when it starts to wilt? At other stages in the ride I met Johnny, who has a daughter called Tilly and runs a cinema/cafe/venue called ‘Time for Tea’ which I haven’t been to yet but am only too happy to plug based on the card; and Arthur from Toronto who was travelling in Europe on business which happened to coincide with the Tweed Run. He does not cycle in winter in Toronto, but does so throughout the rest of the year. I also met Alistair who is half Welsh (shh) and cycles everywhere, including to meetings. He was slightly embarrassed by his non-vintage bike, but I have to say the presence of contemporary bicycles really made the day; as did the combination of people dressed like the early 20th Century texting away on their iPhones.

On my way home I had a short conversation at the traffic lights with a dapper chap who had enjoyed the day very much, and said “it’s just very silly, really”. I suppose this is true; but I also hope the Tweed Run is nevertheless still a protest – albeit a very polite one – against the continuing primacy of cars. I can’t tell you what a treat it was to cycle through the streets of London without the constant rumble of car engines. A notable quote of the day was “I’ve never enjoyed Old Street Roundabout before!” followed shortly by “What? No near-death experience?”So Tally ho to more Tweed Runs and more dressed-up cyclists in general. I hope Sydney follows (tweed) suit!

Love Tillie